Can Lifts Be Energy Efficient?

We’re told that we should all use the stairs more, instead of relying on lifts and elevators all the time. This is for the sake of people’s health, as most office staff spend the majority of the day sat at a desk and using lifts to get to their offices. The resulting lack of physical activity has adverse effects on health over time.

Another major reason that people are advised to use the stairs over lifts is to save energy. But how much energy do lifts actually use? And will taking the stairs actually help decrease our carbon footprint?

The typical office worker takes the lift four times a day; arriving at work, going out for lunch, returning, and then leaving at the end of the day. This produces 0.3-0.6kg of CO2 per person per day.

This doesn’t seem that much, but over the course of a working year (200 days), this accounts for 60-120kg of CO2, which further contributes to the estimated CO2 footprint of 10 tonnes per person per year. Of course, if you live or work in a building taller than 10 or so stories, calculations may be even higher.

The 60-120kg of CO2 a year seems a small percentage of our overall carbon footprint, so should we really be worrying about such a small number, especially when there are more pressing environmental issues?

Most of the energy that goes into lifts can be split into three categories: lighting, hoisting and standby. Lift companies constantly modernise systems to ensure they are as energy efficient as possible. Replacing lights in lifts with CFLs or LEDs is a recent modernising strategy that has been effective at reducing electrical output.

Hydraulic and Traction lifting mechanisms are expensive to maintain and require a lot of energy. Fully switching out these systems will ensure lifts require less energy to operate, giving you a more affordable option than having lift installers replace the entire system.